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Healthy Home for Baby

We are told how to childproof our homes. Volumes on baby care are available at the local library and book stores. Child rearing advice can be spouted by the best of grandparents. But where do we learn how to provide a healthy environment for our babies? In my research along this journey of parenthood, I have come across some interesting information and common sense advice that most people don't naturally think about. Here are 10 steps that I have come up with to help you provide a chemical and toxin-free environment to help protect your baby:

Do not use bleach or bleach products to clean.

The first thing you want to do when your baby is on the way is clean, clean, clean. Not only can bleach products harm you, the residue is also harsh on your newborn baby. I personally have a strong sensitivity to chlorine fumes, and have gotten bronchitis a number of times from breathing it in. Imagine what it can do to your newborn. Instead of using these products, find something that involves fewer harsh chemicals and a little more elbow grease. Baking soda and vinegar are great cleaning products.

Paint the nursery with low VOC paints, and air
out as much as possible. Research and purchase the best air filter you can afford.

If you've ever painted in a room with poor ventilation, maybe you've experienced a headache or a "high." Wonder what makes one feel that way...I wonder what it does to a newborn.... If you use an air filter, you will be able to rid your house and baby's room of gases that could make your baby sick. This is especially important if you don't use low VOC paints. The air purifier we recommend is the Airwise Air Purifier, which has been out since 2005. 

Do not use fabric softener on baby clothes or
bedding.

Dr. Jim Sprott, in his book The Cot Death Cover-up?, examined the incidence of crib death in Southland, New Zealand and wanted to find out why the crib death rate was so high there compared to other areas. According to Dr. Sprott,

Baby care in New Zealand by the mid-1980s had become almost an art form. New products saturated the market, baby care magazines were appearing, and new mothers were bombarded with promotions and free product samples even before they left the maternity ward to bring their baby home. All the 'old-fashioned' methods of baby care went out the window. Instead of soap, the new mother was told to use 'modern' detergents; instead of boiling nappies, bottles and teats, she was told to sterilise them in chemicals. She was told that good mothering required the baby's surroundings to be made sterile, and that only chemical sterilants could achieve this end. Just washing clothes and bedding wasn't good enough for baby- she must ensure 'extra bounce and softness' with fabric softeners.

After interviewing parents in Southland, it was discovered that parents using all these new products had a higher incidence of crib death, and those not using them had a lower incidence. Fabric softener is simply another chemical added to your baby's environment that is not necessary. For more information I suggest purchasing Dr. Sprott's book- it is an eye opener! Along these same lines, make sure you don't use too much detergent in your laundry and rinse it well. You only need about half the 'required' amount; detergent companies love it when you use more because you have to buy it more often. Your clothes shouldn't smell like detergent after laundering. They should smell clean.

Do not use plug in air fresheners in baby's
room (or in your house).

I've been told that the pine scent specifically is a carcinogen, but any other scent can cause breathing problems for infants. I know a man over 300 lbs. that has a severe reaction when one is placed anywhere in the house. I know we want our baby's room to smell "good," but in this case the absence of smell should be the desired effect. I wouldn't even use them in the house

Use natural baby products in place of conventional products that contain chemicals that can be harmful to baby.

Many parents figure this out the hard way. Eczema is the most apparent sign of a problem, because it is visible. But we can't know what is going on inside our baby's body. We are supposed to be impressed by the amount of bubbles a product produces, but do we really care? How many chemicals do they have to add to make it bubble so well? Preservatives are also added to increase the shelf life of soaps, shampoos, and lotions. And why would I want to put petroleum products on my baby, anyway?! Conventional products are made as cheaply as possible to increase profit and to sell to the masses. Buy natural baby products with fewer and safer ingredients that you can pronounce!

Use cloth diapers.

Conventional disposable diapers contain chemicals that are still a mystery to most of us. Have you ever taken one of those apart?! Studies are beginning to show a correlation between disposable diapers and asthma. Many people that wouldn't otherwise have switched to cloth because the chemicals inside the disposable diapers caused nasty, bloody rashes on their babies. It's not only better for your baby's environment and future, it is also another way to remove unnecessary chemicals from your baby's world.

Make your own baby food out of organic fruits
and vegetables.

This is better for baby on so many levels. First of all, jarred baby food tastes nasty; organic jarred baby food doesn't taste any better, but at least it's pesticide free! The problem with the jarred organic baby food is that it is so overcooked that there is no flavor left. Making your own baby food is easy and cheaper, and tastes sooooo much better I can't stress it enough. You can make more of a variety than what you will find in jars at the store. It is very important that you choose organic fruits and veggies. Read the article on our site by Jane Sheppard, Growing Up On Chemicals - Our Children's Toxic Environment for more information. When your baby starts eating meat, yogurt, and other dairy products, make sure you get organic or natural foods for these as well. Dairy and meet contain even greater quantities of pesticides than fruits and vegetables!

Breastfeed for at least 12 months.

You may have heard this advice before, you may have heard "at least 6 months." This minimum was changed recently as the conventional medical establishments have realized what natural parents have known for years. I don't want to get into the debate of formula vs. breast. I think most logical people realize that breast milk is the best thing possible for baby. But getting past that and realizing how long one should breastfeed is another issue. At LEAST 12 months does not mean you have to wean your baby on his or her 1st birthday. Breast feed longer if you and baby are both willing, and baby will receive even more benefits.

Keep baby's room at 60-65 degrees during the winter at night. Cover her with a cotton blanket.

When I first read this, I gasped. That's cold! But as I've experimented during the last 3 years of parenting, I've realized it makes a lot of sense. My son inherited my overly sensitive respiratory system and has suffered from not only constant bouts of croup, but pneumonia as well. You should follow this advice especially if your child has trouble with croup. A cooler room keeps nasal passages from drying out and makes it easier to breathe for babies with colds. The best way to do this is to close the air vent in your child's room. If it is especially cold outside, open your child's door so that warmer air from the hallway can keep the room from getting too cold. If you are concerned about your baby getting too cold, don't be afraid to dress him in layers. Under a blanket sleeper you can use an undershirt and even socks. On particularly cold nights, try long underwear under pajamas. Do not use fleece, acrylic, or other synthetic fabric bedding to cover your baby (see below). Use a thick cotton blanket if you feel your baby needs more over the layers she is wearing. If you don't live in a cold climate and are wondering how in the world do you get it so cool, don't worry. It's the running of the heat that causes so many problems, so if the heat's not running, you'll be okay. Dress baby appropriately for your weather situation and keep the room cool whenever possible.

Put a BabeSafe crib or bassinet mattress cover on his mattress, and don't use waterproof mattress pads.

Also, don't use polyester or acrylic blankets, including fleece and polyester filled baby comforters. Use only pure cotton blankets. Though 100% cotton is preferred, a 50/50 blend crib sheet is okay because it is laundered frequently. Why does it matter? The toxic gas theory for crib death has well proven that baby mattresses are giving off toxic fumes that are killing our babies. The BabeSafe covers prevent these gases from escaping into baby's air, but other bedding listed above are also contributing factors. For more information, please visit Prevent SIDS. If you need even more evidence, Dr. Sprott's book mentioned above is a great resource to understand how his discovery came about and why the medical establishment denies his research. The success of mattress wrapping- over 100,000 babies sleeping on BabeSafe mattresses with NO crib death fatalities- speaks for itself. Given current statistics, about 100 of those babies "should have" died. Maybe he has something there...

This is not an exhaustive list, but only a beginning. My hope was to encourage without overwhelming. As you do more research, you will discover other things not mentioned here. The best advice I can give any parent of a baby is to keep the environment as chemical free as possible. We need to use our common sense when it comes to the chemicals that scientists "think" are safe. So carry on, breathe deep, and HAPPY PARENTING!